"Ready to face Action", Supreme Court rejects Patanjali's apology

Rejecting another set of apologies filed by Patanjali founders Ramdev and Balkrishna for the company's misleading ads, the Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on them.

Apr 10, 2024 - 13:21
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"Ready to face Action", Supreme Court rejects Patanjali's apology

Rejecting another set of apologies filed by Patanjali founders Ramdev and Balkrishna for the company's misleading ads, the Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on them, saying their actions were "wilful, deliberate and repeated violations" of the top court's orders. The court tore into the Uttarakhand licensing authority for not acting against Patanjali for so long and also noted that it is not satisfied with the Centre's reply in the matter.

 the Supreme Court said "We are not blind" and that "it does not want to be generous" in this case. "The apology is on paper. Their back is against the wall. We decline to accept this, we consider it a deliberate violation of the undertaking," the bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice A Amanullah said.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Patanjali founders, said to the bench that people make mistakes in life. However, the top court rebuked the lawyer, responding that in such cases, individuals need to suffer.

At the beginning of the proceedings, the bench noted that Ramdev and Balkrishna sent their apologies to the media first. "Till the matter hit the Court, the contemnors did not find it fit to send us the affidavits. They sent it to the media first, till 7.30 pm yesterday it was not uploaded for us. They believe in publicity clearly," Justice Kohli said.

As Rohatgi read out the affidavits, Justice Amanullah said, "You are defrauding the affidavit. Who drafted it, I am surprised." Mr. Rohatgi said there was a "lapse", to which the court replied, "Very small word".

The court said a message needs to go out to the society at large. "(This is) not just about one FMCG but a violation of the law. Look at your replies to state authority when they asked you to withdraw, you said HC said no coercive steps against us. We are making it a part of your conduct, the larger picture is your conduct with the public at large but saying it is in good faith."

The court then turned to the Uttarakhand government and questioned why licensing inspectors did not act and that three officers should be suspended at once. The court said the state's officers had done nothing. "We have strong objection to the use of the word 'bonafide' for officers. We are not going to take it lightly. We will rip you apart," it said.

"In 2021, the ministry wrote to the Uttarakhand licensing authority against a misleading advertisement. In response, the company gave a response to the licensing authority. However, the authority let off the company with a warning. The 1954 Act does not provide for warning and there is no provision for compounding the offense," the court said.

"This has happened 6 times, back and forth back and forth, the licensing inspector remained quiet. There is no report by the officer. The person appointed subsequently acted the same. All those three officers should be suspended right now," it said, adding that the licensing authority was "in cahoots with the contemnors".

The bench said that the Supreme Court is being mocked. "You are acting like a post office. Did you take legal advice? shameful of you," it told the state licensing department. "Why don't we agree that you are hand-in-glove with Patanjali," the court asked the licensing authority, adding, "You have been playing with people's lives".

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